Leaving Me, Loving You

Reviewed by YTSL

I know it’s rather unfair.  At the same time, I’m sure that I’m not the only fan of Hong Kong cinema out there who finds it next to impossible to not think of Faye Wong’s first movie whenever (s)he views a film that stars the singer-actress whose appearances on celluloid continue to be on the sporadic side.  So here’s getting the main question -- for those of like mind who are reading this review -- out of the way by stating that: To my mind, this 2004 Valentine offering in which Faye plays a professional party-planner, and Leon Lai (who also co-produced) plays a roving doctor, is no where close to “Chungking Express” in quality; but comparisons with the Wong Kar Wai work still don’t appear entirely inappropriate or irrelevant since there most definitely were aspects of this Wilson Yip helmed film which brought to mind certain attributes possessed by that magical as well as whimsical 1994 effort.

Chief among these for me is LEAVING ME, LOVING YOU’s looking to serve as much as a visual promoter of the city in which the movie is set as “Chungking Express” seems to have been for Hong Kong.  For the record, and if the reactions of the Hong Kong Tourist Association folks I spoke to are a good gauge, Wong Kar Wai’s most optimistic offering may well be the film that makes people want to go visit the urban space which is home to Chungking Mansions, the Mid-Levels travelator, the Midnight Express and also a rendezvous spot named California post viewing it.  Even if not in quite the same way, I nonetheless do get the distinct sense that more than one individual might be filled with an urge to head over to Shanghai ASAP post viewing this Poon Yiu Ming lensed romance that makes Mainland China’s most cosmopolitan city -- rather than just its two Mainland Chinese leads -- look incredibly attractive.
Something else that came to the fore early on is it being so that, like with at least one section of the HKFA Best Picture winner in which Faye Wong figured, many portions of LEAVING ME, LOVING YOU have a distinctly music video “feel” to them.  Perhaps this is a function of Faye Wong and Leon Lai having appeared in far more music videos than movies.  However, I also do reckon that it is a reflection on how whole portions of the Mark Lui scored production are so music saturated, lacking in dialogue and reliant on musical notes together with quick-fix montages to convey moods.  Additionally, there’s this nagging feeling I have that this Category I offering, at whose center is on a man and a woman who may love each other yet not be sufficiently compatible, had to be padded out with such as repeat renditions of “Moon River” -- along with pregnant pauses as well as multiple mundane scenes that were geared towards establishing that Leon and Faye are playing “regular folks” here -- due to it actually not having all that much of a story.
For all intensive purposes, LEAVING ME, LOVING YOU’s main storyline can be easily enough described as follows: Dr. Chow (Leon Lai at his most winsome plus winning) and Siu Yuet (the physically striking Faye Wong) break up, then find their paths crossing once more when a wealthy elder who she was assigned by his son to plan a birthday party for turns out to have her ex-boyfriend as his medical adviser cum personal physician.  Initially, the two find themselves at logger heads.  This is due in no small part to the good doctor’s worries that the old gentleman’s heart might not be able to take the big surprise that is an integral part of Siu Yuet’s plan for the fragile senior causing her client to hesitate to go ahead with the undoubtedly expensive as well as extravagant display that she had arranged.
Since it is not a situation that the tender-hearted medico had necessarily wished for, and not least because he remains very much in love with Siu Yuet (even while she appears intent on forging a new and more independent path with little room for him in it), he tries to make amends by doing such as supplying the almost always stylishly attired femme with information that she might be able to use to furnish the old gentlemen with the birthday surprise that he really would love to have.  Further proof of Dr. Chow’s continuing to be enamored by Siu Yuet comes in the form of his paying scant attention to the attempts at being friendly of a cute traffic cop (played by Jiang Yihong, an actress who I think bears a marked resemblance to a young(er) Maggie Cheung).  Additionally, in a move which -- once more -- brought to mind a certain Jet Tone production, albeit with a role reversal twist involved here, the lovesick fellow goes about engaging in what, outside of idealistic romantic works, would be looked upon as the kind of “stalking” behavior that could land its perpetuator in court and even jail...

My rating for this film (...with the warning that I happen to like Leon Lai): 6.